Report Says Former FBI Official Andrew McCabe Lied About Self-Serving Leaks To Journalists

from the unfortunately-for-Trump,-both-Comey-and-McCabe-can't-both-be-lying dept

The Inspector General of the FBI has released a report detailing the incidents leading up to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s firing. Whether or not these were the reasons the White House chose to can him isn’t confirmed, but the report [PDF] does show there was plenty of justification for his termination.

According to the report, McCabe violated FBI policy multiple times during the investigation process with dishonest or misleading answers while under oath. On top of that, his unauthorized disclosure of the status of a Clinton Foundation investigation to a Wall Street Journal reporter violated department policy on media relations.

The leaks appear to have been McCabe’s damage control efforts. The Wall Street Journal had already published an article detailing McCabe’s involvement in his wife’s unsuccessful 2015 state senate campaign. During this run, McCabe’s wife received $675,000 from a political action committee run by the state’s governor (Terry McAuliffe) who had “long-standing ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

Given Clinton was one of the candidates in the 2016 presidential race, suggestions were made that McCabe should recuse himself from the investigation. The FBI’s official statement said McCabe’s supervision of the investigation did not begin until after his wife’s senate campaign was over. But the WSJ article painted a different picture: McCabe’s office provided personnel and resources to the Clinton Foundation investigation while his wife was still campaigning (and receiving money from a PAC tied to a Clinton buddy).

With another article two days away, the WSJ reached the FBI for comment on McCabe’s involvement. At that point, McCabe apparently took a hands-on approach. The info the WSJ had contradicted McCabe’s own narrative about recusing himself from the investigation. Instead, the journalist had sources stating McCabe had tried to kill the Clinton Foundation investigation.

According to Special Counsel’s contemporaneous notes of the call and testimony to the OIG, she and AD/OPA learned during the first call that Barrett had sources who were adamant that McCabe gave a purported order to “stand down” on the CF Investigation before the 2016 presidential election, implying that McCabe wanted to shut down the investigation for improper reasons.

McCabe — engaging in several texts and phone calls with FBI media intermediaries — provided the WSJ with a different narrative. The OIG report quotes the WSJ article:

According to a person familiar with the probes, on Aug. 12, a senior Justice Department official called Mr. McCabe to voice his displeasure at finding that New York FBI agents were still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe during the election season. Mr. McCabe said agents still had the authority to pursue the issue as long as they didn’t use overt methods requiring Justice Department approvals.

The Justice Department official was “very pissed off,” according to one person close to McCabe, and pressed him to explain why the FBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant. . . .

“Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?” Mr. McCabe asked, according to people familiar with the conversation. After a pause, the official replied “Of course not,” these people said.

Following this spin attempt, McCabe then began ringing up field offices and “admonishing them for leaks.” These would be the same leaks McCabe provided to the WSJ. While officials in New York and DC remember these calls from McCabe, McCabe apparently does not.

From that point on, the report details several divergences between McCabe’s sworn statements and those of others, like then-FBI director James Comey. McCabe, however, could not present a clear timeline of this authorization when questioned by FBI investigators. And so it goes for several pages, with McCabe’s testimony being disputed by everyone else involved. Not only does Comey not recall there being any leak authorization, but that McCabe himself presented the leak to Comey as unauthorized.

I have a strong impression he conveyed to me “it wasn’t me boss.” And I don’t think that was by saying those words, I think it was most likely by saying “I don’t know how this shit gets in the media or why would people talk about this kind of thing,” words that I would fairly take as “I, Andy, didn’t do it.” And I actually didn’t suspect Andy, after conversations with [my chief of staff], my worry was, was his aide [Special Counsel] doing it.

McCabe’s Chief of Staff also had no idea McCabe was behind the leak. In fact, the COS felt the leak did more harm than good, benefitting McCabe at the expense of the FBI and DOJ.

I just can’t imagine that the Deputy would have authorized the leak. It just doesn’t seem to serve, I mean, I guess it serves, it serves the purpose of the Deputy by saying, hey look, do you want us to shut this thing down? I guess it serves Andy in that way, but it really, it really highlights a dysfunction between the FBI and the, and DOJ. And to that end, it doesn’t really serve the greater good.

The denials of wrongdoing by McCabe are rebutted thoroughly by the OIG report. Some are as simple as noting clear discrepancies between McCabe’s testimony and that of others involved. Some are even worse, showing someone running a fine-tuned surveillance apparatus somehow thought his own communications would escape the attention of investigators.

[W]with regard to McCabe’s claim that he did not know where Special Counsel was or what she was doing during the relevant time period, FBI records show that McCabe was in frequent telephone and text communication with Special Counsel during that time period and had several communications with her regarding her calls with [WSJ journalist Devlin] Barrett, including a 51 minute call after her first call with Barrett and a 23 minute call after her final call with Barrett. McCabe’s own text messages reflect that McCabe was keenly interested to learn about the results of Special Counsel’s calls with Barrett. We therefore found that McCabe’s claimed ignorance regarding Special Counsel’s activities on those days was demonstrably false.

Unfortunately, there’s a portion of the populace that feels anyone the Trump Administration fires is a martyr to the Resistance cause. And they’re putting their money where their bias is. McCabe’s legal defense crowdfunding effort raised more than $500,000, showing there are plenty of Americans willing to hand additional money to a well-paid public servant who committed career suicide by apparently covering up his involvement in a self-serving leak.

McCabe’s legal team has issued a response [PDF] to the OIG report which takes issue with a few of its conclusions. About the only rebuttal with merit is related to the leak. As his legal team points out, McCabe was authorized to selectively leak information to journalists, much like many high-ranking government officials. The rest of it is little more than semi-plausible explanations as to why there might be an incredible amount of inconsistencies in McCabe’s sworn testimony.

There are reasons to be concerned about how the firing was handled. McCabe was basically 24 hours away from qualifying for a pension, so the decision to fire him rather than let him resign looks more vindictive than judicious. And while McCabe’s leak may have given some people the impression FBI investigations weren’t subject to personal political leanings, it appears to have been pushed out to clear McCabe of any Clinton-related suspicions, rather than serve the greater purpose of protecting the reputation of the FBI or DOJ.

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Comments on “Report Says Former FBI Official Andrew McCabe Lied About Self-Serving Leaks To Journalists”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Vindictive timing? Crimes months before. WE SAVED $1.8 million!

After this RARE if not UNIQUE more or less objective outline that shows Trump right, you still can’t resist a dig at Trump for firing a SERIAL LIAR.

Anyhoo, guess Techdirt is trying Truth. For YOU, that’s innovation!

(BTW: you MIGHT also try NOT hiding comments, as that sneaky, vindictive, little tactic, pretending it’s “the Community” and not approved by an Administrator, does not put you in good light, AND does not have effect of stifling dissent!)

Unanimous Cow Herd says:

Re: Re: Vindictive timing? Crimes months before. WE SAVED $1.8 million!

What makes you think that hurling an insult helps your argument? AC is right on this. I’m not a Trump fanboy and even I have to agree that TD’s bias is very apparent. I’m not making a dig at TD or the author, just pointing out prima facie.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

It’s a statement of fact, though.

Trump says that Comey lied when he told Chuck Grassley he never authorized anyone at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Clinton or Trump investigations. Trump says Comey was lying because McCabe acted as such an anonymous source.

However, Trump also says that McCabe was lying, and was never given authorization.

Which is it? It can’t possibly be both. If McCabe is lying, then Comey is telling the truth, and vice-versa. McCabe did not exist in some kind of quantum superposition where he was simultaneously authorized and unauthorized. He was one or the other. Either he was unauthorized, in which case McCabe lied and Comey told the truth, or he was authorized, in which case Comey lied and McCabe told the truth.

They can’t both be lying about this; that’s a logical impossibility. But Trump has claimed they are.

What part of that is bias? Is any criticism of Trump inherently biased, even if the criticism is entirely accurate?

Anonymous Coward says:

SHOW that Comey and McCabe can't both be lying!

I guess the point of this anomaly for Techdirt — The Truth — is to somehow bolster Comey by admitting McCabe’s crimes.

At any rate, I don’t see any connection between title and rest. All you do is state that Comey has already tried to distance from McCabe.

So what? How exactly does that make Comey truthful in all, and bad for Trump?

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: "Vindictive" ?

For a bit of elaboration, see The Comey Letter Probably Cost Clinton The Election, by Nate Silver.

It is, of course, reductive to blame Comey entirely for Trump’s victory; if the election weren’t already close, his letter couldn’t have swung it. (Silver’s article is part of a lengthy series he wrote, breaking down various reasons behind the upset in ’16; the Comey letter was the tipping point, but of course not the sole cause.)

And there’s plenty of blame to go around. Lynch never should have gotten on that plane with Bill Clinton, for example.

But that doesn’t excuse Comey. He violated rules and norms, and he swung an election. That Trump later fired him for pretextual and possibly illegal reasons doesn’t make him some kind of hero; the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: "Vindictive" ?

Yeah, I’m sorry, but blaming Comey for Trump is just shoving one’s head in the ground and humming real loud.

The reality of the situation is that people who were NOT going to vote for Hillary just weren’t going to do so no matter what. The majority of those voted for Trump. Those that were going to vote FOR Hillary did so regardless of that e’mail teapot tempest. There were very few undecided people in 2016 by November when that additional media hyped fizzled bomb failed to go off. By then no one was going to change their vote regardless of the poll numbers.

Trump rode a virulently anti-establishment voter revolt to the presidency much as Hillary was fighting off a similar populist revolt inside the Democratic voter base. If the Democratic party rules hadn’t been so firmly pro-establishment it’s not inconceivable that Trump could have faced off against Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton.

People that are as anti-establishment as many of those that supported Trump and Sanders were not going to vote for Hillary, the very embodiment of that establishment and entitlement, and indeed some of those that voted for Trump were actually Sanders supporters in the beginning.

There’s a general voter discontent out there in mainstream America. The establishment are doing everything they can to ignore it, marginalize it, and cover it up. If you notice there’s several long time establishment Republicans not standing for re-election this year in both houses. Establishment politics will probably be the last thing their replacement hopefuls will be wanting to show regardless of their true loyalty. Looking like they’re Koch brothers lackeys will probably be detrimental to their campaign health.

Anonymous Coward says:

>Unfortunately, there’s a portion of the populace that feels anyone the Trump Administration fires is a martyr to the Resistance cause.

Unfortunately, The Resistance appears to be a wholly reactionary phenomenon. The fringe of either sides show little interest in reigning in abuses of power not perpetrated by their side.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The deafening roars of all these echo chambers going at it.

His firing was at a typical “dick move” time and Trump has a fairly extensive track record of waggling his dick around.

Jumping to conclusions should be expected. It quacked like a duck, we’ve had a duck running around here shitting on things for a while now… turned out not to be the duck this time.

The real issue is if people don’t readjust their stance based on evidence.


Re: Re: Mindless partisan nonsense.

His firing was at a typical “dick move” time and Trump has a fairly extensive track record of waggling his dick around.

No. It’s simply how the FBI operates. NPR even had an ex-FBI guy that shills at CNN confirm this. They have a real fetish for this “candor” thing. It doesn’t matter if you are just one day from retirement.

Also, the IG is an Obama appointee.

!ROGS!_* says:


Supervisory Special Agent, Robyn Gritz, one of the bureau’s top intelligence analysts and terrorism experts, filed a sexual discrimination complaint against the bureau. Gritz came forward with allegations of harassment by McCabe, who she said created a “cancer-like” bureaucracy striking fear in female agents, causing others to resign, and “poisoning the 7th floor,” where management is housed in the FBI’s Hoover Building…..

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